First Lady Melania Trump and the U.S. President’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump spoke to a group of Saudi women during a roundtable discussion at the General Electric all-female service center at the Saudi capital. Melania and Ivanka said that women should strive to work together and to educate their children, according to Reuters. Melania and Ivanka praised Saudi Arabia for its “encouraging” progress with regards to women’s rights.
“In every country, including the United States, women and girls face challenges… Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging. But there’s still a lot of work to be done and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for.”
On Saturday, President Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia and was promptly greeted with an elaborate welcome from Saudi King Salman and other high-level Saudi officials on the tarmac once they emerged from Air Force One.
Ivanka accompanied her father on his Presidential trip to the Middle East and met with a group of Saudi female leaders in Riyadh on Sunday. Ivanka discussed to how women might gain further freedoms in the male-dominated state.
The talk was led by Deputy President of the Women’s Sports Authority, Princess Reema bint Bander, according to AFP. Many did not expect Trump to push the issue of human rights on his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, the women visited the American International School of Riyadh and gave out books to the students. The school has both male and female students of different nationalities. This is unlike other schools in the conservative nation.
Eman al Hafjan, is a resident in a Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and helped organize a demonstration of women driving cars in 2013.
“If he’s OK with human rights abuses, with the fact that women can’t drive, with the male guardianship system, with all the issues that we have in Saudi Arabia then that really shows the type of leadership that he represents.”
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) May 21, 2017
Melania told 200 female employees that she is always striving to find a balance between her role of First Lady and being a mother.
“It is about finding the balance,” she told the women, who took pictures of her with their smartphones. Later on Twitter, she wrote “Enjoyed talking to the incredible women working hard @GE_Saudi service center. Great strides being made towards the empowerment of women.”
According to Reuters, Saudi Arabia is well known as the world’s most gender-segregated nation. A place in which women live under the supervision of a male guardian. Women also need the male guardian’s permission to travel, study, and get some health treatments, according to Reuters.
In 2011, the late King Abdullah declared women could hold a place in the government’s advisory Shura Council. Saudi women were also given the right to vote in municipal elections as well as work in some retail and hospitality jobs. In the next year, women were allowed to compete in the Olympic Games. In the previous games, Saudi Arabia had always sent exclusively male teams.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) May 21, 2017
Since then, progression has been made for women that align with diversifying the economy by employing more women which could cut the country’s reliance on oil
On Sunday, President Trump attended the Arab Islamic American Summit to speak about his “hopes of a peaceful vision of Islam,” according to BBC.
Earlier this month, it was reported the President’s son-in-law made a personal phone call to Lockheed Martin CEO during a meeting with a Saudi delegation. It has been reported that Kushner asked the rep to cut the price of a missile defense system, as reported by the New York Times. The phone call was a part of Jared’s effort to secure the $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia before Trump’s scheduled trip to the kingdom this weekend, according to The Hill.
— RT America (@RT_America) May 21, 2017
This week, the Justice Department named a special counsel to investigate Russian meddling in last year’s election, including potential ties between Trump associates and Russian officials.
The President’s firing of FBI Director, James Comey, fueled the Russian narrative. Comey was originally leading the Russia probe. The POTUS has also been accused of revealing highly classified intelligence to Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.
The President’s stop in the Saudi capital is the first in an eight-day, five-country sweep across the Europe and the Middle East.
After Saudi Arabia, Trump will make trips to Israel, Rome, Brussels, and Sicily.
[Featured Image by Hasan Jamali/AP Images]